A shoe that grows is one that pays dividends for years to come.

It’s a wisdom that Ramiro Dávila believes will catch on. That’s why the Ridgefield High School senior is raising money to bring 100 pairs of adjustable shoes to his native Ecuador this month.

“I came across this problem when I was home visiting my family last Christmas break,” said the 17-year-old high school student. “I kept seeing more and more kids from the villages walk to school barefoot. That’s a three kilometer trek every day — without any shoes, without anything protecting their feet.”

Dávila, who was born in Ecuador and moved to the United States when he was three years old, said he also saw a soccer game where kids were playing barefoot. A few players had shoes that “were not protecting their feet.”

He hopes that the adjustable shoes — dubbed “The Shoe That Grows” and supplied by Because International — will help students in the village of Santa Marianita.

“The shoe has five sizes so kids do not have to get new shoes as their feet grow,” Dávila explained.

He wishes to never return home empty-handed.

“This is the pilot run for what I hope to be many more times,” said Dávila, who founded Together for Ecuador this summer. “I want to deliver the shoes and grow this program. I want to implement it down there so kids in the future don’t have to walk to school barefoot. ... It’s definitely not a one-time thing.”

He departs for the capital city of Quito on Aug. 21, where he will travel to his hometown of Manta. He will fly to Ecuador with his dad, who will help transport the shoes in duffel bags to the village.

“The population of Santa Marianita is 2,708,” Dávila said. “There are 598 children from ages 0-9 years which are my target market for the shoes. In addition, there are 566 children from 10-19 years old which I will be helping in my future endeavors.”

While in Ecuador, the Ridgefield resident will meet with several key officials in the local Lions Club organization about making return trips with more shoes that grow.

“Almost everybody in my extended family is still down there — my grandpa and grandma, my aunts and uncles,” said Dávila, who is captain of the RHS varsity tennis team and secretary of the school’s Environmental Sustainability Club.

“I’m an avid tennis player and go back every summer to play on the clay down there.”

Goal

Dávila would like to raise $2,000 for this trip. Each pair of shoes cost $20.

His family is taking care of the transportation expense.

“The shoes are delivered here to Ridgefield,” he explained. “We’re taking them from here to my grandma’s home in Manta, which is a smaller city out near the village.”

So far, he’s received only a sample shoe that he intends to bring around town to restaurants and shops when fundraising.

“It has three buckles in the front and two buckles in the back for the heel,” Dávila said. “I’ll be happy to demonstrate how it works for anyone who wants to see it.”

Future politician

It’s not all about tennis for the Ridgefield teenager.

In 2018, Dávila interned for State Sen. Will Haskell from September through Election Day.

It was a formative experience for the aspiring politician who plans to one day get a law degree.

“The internship helped me a lot, it was incredible to learn about politics,” he said.

“I really want to immerse myself fully in politics,” he added. “It’s something I’ve always been into since I was a little kid.”

And that’s because politics runs in the family. Dávila’s great grandfather, Abelardo Montalvo Salgado, was the president of Ecuador in the late 1800s.

“I’m not down there year-round but being from Ridgefield I know that I can make a big impact, and that this is a viable way of getting involved,” said Dávila of Together for Ecuador.

“I’m a senior right now so after this trip my next time down there will be Christmas,” he added. “I plan on taking shoes with me every time I go down. And, next summer, I want to grow it and add more villages in Ecuador. In college, hopefully, I can grow it to other countries. That’s my vision.”

To donate, visit fundraise.becauseinternational.org/fundraiser/2172618 or click here.